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BOJ at crossroads after talk of policy shift rattles market

Bank moved to curb sharp rise in interest rates

TOKYO -- Speculation that the Bank of Japan will consider changes to its monetary easing policy has set long-term rates climbing, pushed down stocks and firmed up the yen, prompting the central bank to reassure investors that the basic direction of policy is unchanged.

News reports emerged on Friday evening that the BOJ plans to discuss a more flexible approach to guiding long-term interest rates when policymakers hold their two-day meeting through July 31. Specific actions, including a rate hike, could thus come up for debate before the month is out.

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